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Why are polls not up on the walls?

No wall-writing, no posters, no open canvassing. But Bengal is ready for the five-phase Assembly polls from Apr 17.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 18:23 IST

The place: Gariahat in south Kolkata. Time: 10 am. The mercury's kissing the 40 degrees mark.

Chhotu Mandal and Anil Pal (name changed) have just been disgorged by the suburban shuttle from Diamond Harbour at the squalid Ballygunge station. The duo's die-hard red. Rebels with causes and Buddha da's ardent fans.

But it's been sometime they have sampled the urban delights. Especially the pre-poll ones. Oh! But what a let down. Anil to Chhotu: "The walls. They are spotless. We were misled. There's no election." Chhotu is foxed.

"How come they are clean. Where are the graffitis? The banners? We are at the wrong place."

Shymal Sen, a 40-something bank employee was tracking the conversation with a bemused smile.

The bhadralok that he is, Sen was trying to look the other way. But it was too much. "At least, appreciate it," he mumbled. Anil looked at him perplexed. "The Election Commission has banned everything. It is a miracle," Sen explained.

No wall-writing, no posters, no open canvassing. But West Bengal is ready for the five-phase Assembly elections from April 17, thanks to the Election Commission's strict enforcement of the model code of conduct.

It has evoked mixed reaction from the contesting political parties, particularly CPI(M), which is fuming. Five days ahead of the D-day, the fever is yet to rage in the three districts, and in Kolkata too.

In the districts, Maoists are the deterrent and in the megapolis, the poll panel. Electioneering has never been so dull in the state. However, the curbs have activated the grey cells in the red ranks. Chhotu and Anil don't know about it. For, they are no yuppies, just poor country yokels.

The parties have innovated. Hats, umbrellas, T-shirts and vests are the latest campaign gear. Peace is the in thing. And discretion, the new political language. Kolkatans love it, the parties hate it. And the EC smirks.

First Published: Apr 13, 2006 18:23 IST